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Posted at 05:40 PM ET, 11/30/2011

Pork Barrel and Memphis open; who has the D.C. area’s best ‘cue?

The hickory-fired grill at Crystal City restaurant Memphis. (Justin Rude - The Washington Post)
It’s a big week for area barbecue fans, as an already crowded meat market gets some fresh competition. Pork Barrel BBQ opened in Del Ray on Tuesday, and All We Can Eat’s Jim Shahin had the story on the highly anticipated restaurant’s rocky road to opening. But that’s not all for lovers of smoke and meat: Crystal City’s Memphis is set to open Thursday Monday, in the 23rd Street spot that used to house Mackey’s. More on that in a moment.

But first, with these recent additions to Washington’s diverse barbecue scene, it’s high time to take the temperature of the area’s barbecue fans — as one would do every hour with a slowly smoking pork shoulder — to see which purveyor is carving up the best cuts. Because whether it’s Texas, Memphis, Kansas City or Carolina, at the end of the day, all we’re looking for is a tasty piece of meat. Vote for your favorite, or give us a write-in if we managed to overlook your favorite little hole-in-the-wall.

Now, back to Memphis: Co-owner and Tennessee native Chris George and pit master Redrick Rayborn will be serving Memphis-style (what else?) barbecue, which means lots of pork smoked with hickory and finished over a hickory-fired grill. The kitchen, which expects to go through a cord of wood a week, will also serve grilled fish, veggies and other entrees with a Southern accent, though the big draws will be the pulled pork and ribs.

The space itself, decked with lots of red- and dark-finished wood, is simultaneously warm and upscale, hitting a sweet spot that George is aiming for with the entire concept. “We want to be something a little bit different and just a little bit upscale,” he says. “We’re going to be a great place to come on a date night.” The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner Thursday, and plans to add brunch to its repertoire in January.

By  |  05:40 PM ET, 11/30/2011

Categories:  Restaurants

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